Lemony Lentil Salad with Almond Feta

Normally after making and photographing a recipe, I take a few days (really, weeks) to write the post. There is no real reason why I do this, I just prefer to have a steady backlog to work from and like to write whenever inspiration strikes. However, that was not the case with this salad.

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I NEEDED TO SHARE ASAP.

I try to have 0 expectations when I craft a new recipe, because you never really know how it’s going to turn out. Often times I need to test things at least twice before I’m satisfied enough to post.

Nevertheless, this lentil salad blew me away. Almond “feta” is what really takes it over the top. I have not experimented much in the realm of vegan cheese because, frankly, it always seems rather time intensive for very little payoff. If I can buy decent cheese at the store, why bother making it at home? Trust me, this one is worth it.

It’s pretty simple to boot! Most of the time involved is just letting the almonds soak and letting the “cheese” mixture drain in the fridge.

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Lentil salad was a summer staple in my house growing up, for good reason. Lentils are very nutrient dense and all of the flavors get better as they sit. This salad holds up well in the fridge and is the perfect picnic lunch! Zesty lemon marries beautifully with flavorful herbs, smooth olive oil, crunchy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes.

I also experimented with a new lentil cooking method, which really paid off. Instead of adding seasonings after cooking, you boil them right alongside in the pot! I outline how to do this below; it really helps inject a full flavor profile.

I hope you enjoy this easy summer meal. The ingredients are fairly standard but hope you love the end result as much as I do. I am writing this post in the morning but am already looking forward to lunch today 😍

Just remember: the feta here involves a little forethought, so be sure to soak your almonds the day before you decide to make the salad. The ingredient/instruction list looks long but I promise actual prep time is quick.

This would work well as a packed meal for school/work too–say no to sad desk lunches!

Ingredients:

For almond feta*:

  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 and 1/2 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 2 small cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk

For salad:

  • 1 cup dried green or brown lentils (I used a mix of both)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
  • 2 inches of lemon peel
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or oregano
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 large bunches parsley, minced
  • A few springs cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, minced (optional)

For dressing

  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

METHOD:

  1. To make the feta: Soak your almonds in water overnight. The next day, drain and process with lemon juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and almond milk. Let blend until no large nut pieces remain. Pour mixture into a cheese cloth and squeeze out excess moisture. Let sit in the fridge in a colander over a bowl until mostly dried (I did a few hours and this was fine).
  2. OK, your cheese is basically ready! Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Plop cheese onto sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and firm. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. While your cheese is baking you can start the lentils. Bring water and lentils to a boil along with garlic, lemon peel, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, until water is absorbed. Be sure to check at the 20 min mark (you don’t want lentils to get mushy).
  4. Remove lentils from stove and using a spoon, pick out bay leaves, larger garlic pieces, and lemon peel. Add lentils to a large bowl along with tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, parsley, cilantro, and optional red onion.
  5. Pour all dressing ingredients into a mason jar and shake until incorporated. Drizzle dressing over lentil/veggie mixture and stir to cover.
  6. Crumble your cooled “feta” on top and enjoy! This will taste better after sitting in the fridge for a night; I hope you love it!

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NOTES:

*Almond feta method adapted from Emilie Eats.

 

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